Located in the rural town of Blue Springs, Mississippi, TEMA’s Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi, Inc. (TMMMS) program encompasses 1,540 acres, with a variety of habitats for wildlife including grasslands, forest, wetlands and stormwater ponds. This large and varied site aligns its program with Toyota’s sustainability initiative, which lays out three conservation themes: native habitat restoration, green landscaping, and pollinators. Reflecting these themes, TMMMS conservation efforts include maintenance of wood duck nest boxes and pollinator gardens, monitoring stormwater ponds and wetlands, and providing a number of employee and community engagement opportunities.
When beavers unexpectedly moved in and created dams in the ponds, the team gladly added it to their already extensive project list.
After careful research to determine where they should be placed, the wood duck boxes were assembled and installed with the help of a team of staff volunteers and a local Boy Scout troop. Through regular monitoring, team members discovered that several of the nest boxes were successfully housing breeding wood ducks within the first year. The team also worked to plant three pollinator gardens across an area of almost 6 acres, replacing former parking lots with pollinator-friendly plants, including milkweed, to benefit the critically-imperiled monarch butterflies. The team even partnered with Mississippi State University to develop an official Pollinator Management Strategy and conduct annual evaluations of the gardens. This solid partnership has helped the team improve the species composition of the gardens over time to better benefit pollinators.
When a landscaping glitch resulted in an unexpected habitat, TMMMS added a new conservation project. Retention ponds that were created during construction of the TMMMS facility were not originally intended to hold standing water. However, when beavers moved in and created dams, the team decided keep the ponds because they provide habitat for many other animals like waterfowl, fish and wading birds. The TMMMS team now monitors wildlife and plant growth, and is evaluating opportunities for additional projects in the ponds.
Employee and community engagement are a valued component of the TMMMS program. Employees have been encouraged to participate in annual events for Earth Day and National Public Lands Day, as well as cleanups, tree and shrub planting, invasive plant removal, painting, and construction activities at local landmarks. The team has also provided access to a graduate student from Mississippi State University to conduct thesis research on the root stimulation of oak trees, and to professors in Japan to identify afforestation opportunities.
It is a testament to the TMMMS team that the program has flourished from day one, and has even been able to convert several unexpected situations into successful, highly-beneficial projects for wildlife and the community.
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